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NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

No. CXL.

JULY, 1848.

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ART. I. – 1. Letters of Hon. Joseph Howe to Lord John

Russell ; October, 1846. 2. Despatch of Earl Grey, Colonial Secretary, to Earl

Elgin, Governor-General of British America ; Decem

ber 31, 1846. 3. Despatches of Earl Grey, Colonial Secretary, to Sir

John Harvey, Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-inchief of Nova Scotia ; March 2 and March 31, 1847. 4. Address of Hon. Louis Joseph Papineau to the Elec

tors of the Counties of Huntingdon and St. Maurice ;

December, 1847. 5. Speech of Hon. Lemuel A. Wilmot, in the House of

Assembly of New Brunswick; February, 1848.

THREE years and a half ago,* we called the attention of our readers to the political condition of the British Colonies north and east of us, and gave a brief view of the questions which have recently occupied the minds of the Colonists and of the statesmen of England. We propose now to return to the subject, and to notice the several papers mentioned at the head of this article, as well as to consider the aspect of Colonial affairs generally. Those who feel an interest in the concerns of our neighbours across the frontier may freshen their recollections by turning to our former remarks, and reading them in connection with what we shall now offer.

* North American Review for January, 1845. VOL. LXVII. NO. 140.

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To us, who have watched the progress of events in the British Colonies with intense interest for many years, every thing seems to indicate a final and complete separation from the mother country. England, we feel assured, will lose her continental possessions in America at no distant day ; and it should be the earnest prayer of the humane and truehearted everywhere, that, when the hour for their emancipation shall come, she may part with them in peace. The experiment of attempting by fire and sword to prevent colonies from becoming nations has been tried quite often enough ; Christianity and humanity ought never again on this account to weep over smouldering ruins and untimely graves, over divided and expatriated families, over desolate hearths and broken hearts.

British statesmen will soon be required to choose between the employment of fleets and armies to preserve the integrity of the empire, or of statutory provisions for the amicable settlement of demands and difficulties which are pressed upon them in new forms, and with increased importunity, from year to year.

From this decision there can be no escape.

Were that stout old Loyalist of Maryland, George Chalmers, * now alive, he would very probably say, that, as concession to unreasonable pretensions set up by the Old Thirteen was the primary cause of their revolt, so the disquiets which now prevail in the present Colonies are to be traced to a similar origin. If he were at his former post in the Privy Council, he would read in wonder the state papers which continually find their way thither, and in view of the fact that they contain the representations of the descendants of those who were banished or fled at the period of his own hegira, he would be likely to repeat his profound and characteristic remark, that " whether the famous achievement of Columbus introduced the greater good or evil by discovering a new world to the old has in every succeeding age offered a subject for disputation.” In truth, it is a matter which may well surprise, not only such men as Chalmers, but those who hold very different princi

*

An annalist, whose works are constantly referred to and cited by our own historical writers. His Political Annals of the United Colonies, published in 1780, and his Introduction to the History of the Revolt of the same, printed at Boston in 1845, are of the highest value to the student of history: He went to England, and was chief clerk of the Committee of the Privy Council for nearly half a century. He died in London, 1825, aged 82.

ples in politics, to witness the children of the Tories of our Revolution imitating so exactly the conduct of those whom their fathers resisted in the field as rebels and traitors. The triumph of the Whig doctrines of 1776 is complete, as our readers will not fail to observe in the progress of our inquiries ; since it will be apparent, that in Canada West,* in Nova Scotia, and in New Brunswick, persons of the name and lineage of the old Loyalists are now among the boldest and most influential of the Reformers, the Liberals, or, as their opponents say, the Revolutionists, of the present day.

Our first object is to notice the most important events that have taken place in the three principal Colonies since January, 1845. In Canada, towards the close of Lord Metcalfe's administration, and while his temporary successor, Lord Cathcart, was at the head of affairs, nothing occurred which need detain us here ; and we have only to speak of the leading events since the arrival of the present GovernorGeneral, Lord Elgin and Kincardine. This nobleman, a Scottish earl of the creation of 1633, succeeded Lord Metcalfe as governor of Jamaica at the critical period of the negro emancipation in the British West Indies, and so conducted the public concerns as to maintain amicable relations with the Assembly and with the government at home. He arrived at Halifax early in 1847, and having congratulated all parties on the harmony which apparently prevailed in Nova Scotia, he departed almost immediately for his own capital. He is to be regarded as a cool and sagacious statesman. No subject abroad is clothed with higher powers; his station is inferior in importance only to that of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and that of the Governor-General of India, while experience has shown that it is more perilous to life † and reputation than either of these.

Lord Elgin, on his arrival in Canada, found every thing on the surface calm. “Responsible government,” the panacea which was to cure every political evil, and charm away all

*

Upper Canada, before the union, in 1840. # It is hardly to be doubted, that the sad termination of Lord Durham's mission to Canada put an end to his life ; and whatever causes hurried his three successors, Sir Charles Bagot, Lord Sydenham, and Lord Metcalfe, to the grave, the severity of the climate and the pressure of public cares are surely to be ranked among them.

Colonial disabilities, was in full operation. As he was soon to meet the Assembly, he attempted to fill the vacancies which existed in the cabinet bequeathed to him by his predecessor, and made overtures to the leaders of the Liberals of French origin, to form a ministry in which both of the great parties should be represented. The negotiation proceeded on the basis, that the cabinet should consist of the three gentlemen then in office, three more who were to be selected by the Liberals, and a seventh whom his Lordship would nominate when the ministry should be otherwise completed. It is understood that this plan was first submitted to Mr. Morin, and subsequently to Mr. B. Papineau ; but it failed, in consequence of a demand on the part of the Liberals that Mr. Daly, the Provincial Secretary, should be dismissed. It is further understood that Mr. Daly, on learning that he had become an obstacle to the arrangement, tendered his resignation, but that Lord Elgin peremptorily declined to proceed, unless the pretension of thus controlling the secretaryship was withdrawn. The correspondence on this point appears to have been conducted with Mr. P. Caron, to whom was offered the place of President of the Cabinet; but neither he nor his friends would yield, and the three vacancies were subsequently filled by gentlemen of the “ British party."

As the Conservatives outnumbered the Liberals in the Assembly, the latter, on refusing to form a coalition administration, determined to agitate the country anew, and to obtain the control of both branches of the government. A popular election was soon to occur, and it is to be remembered, that, on the principles of “responsible government,” the members of a Colonial ministry hold their places entirely at the will of the Assembly, and not, as formerly, by a life tenure.

The election of a new Assembly terminated early in 1848, when it was ascertained that the Liberals had achieved a complete triumph, and secured a large majority. Unlike some of his predecessors, Lord Elgin maintained a neutral position throughout the contest, and we have no knowledge that his name or influence was authoritatively appealed to, in a single instance, by either party, during the canvass.

The Conservatives had the control of the times and places of the ballotings in the different towns, cities, and ridings, and the officers who presided at the polls were generally of their party ; the members of the government, also, and the Episcopal clergy were on their side. The success of their opponents was as fairly obtained, therefore, as a political victory ever is ; the diminished majorities in places where there could be no pretence of fraudulent polling, and the loss of mernbers in districts which had returned Liberals at no former period, showed clearly that there had been a great change in public sentiment. The House, since the Act of Union, consists of eighty-four members, and the Liberals claim a majority of thirty-four. At no previous time, probably, has the popular branch contained so large a representation of the wealth, the talents, and political experience of the Colony, as at present.

If our limits would allow, we might trace the history of several, whose career affords a striking illustration of the vicissitudes of human condition. Men who were banished by Lord Durham, and who remained in exile for years, others who found safety only in concealment, some who were apprehended and imprisoned, and others for whose arrest as traitors and outlaws the government offered large rewards at the time of the memorable rebellion in 1837, are among the most prominent members of the new Assembly. Already some of them have been taunted with their former conduct so bitterly, as to show that their opponents have nursed their hate, and will put them

upon

their defence at every possible opportunity.

The result of the election promptly sealed the doom of Lord Elgin's advisers, who, upon a vote in the popular branch of “a want of confidence,” resigned in, a body. Gentlemen belonging to and designated by the victorious party succeeded to their places, and those who, within a few years, had been denounced by proclamation, imprisoned, or exiled, and whose political fortunes were supposed to be irrecoverably ruined, now occupy seats in the cabinet of the Governor-General of British America! What would Chalmers say to a

"o concession " like this ? We pass to Nova Scotia. In our former notice of the politics of this Colony, we expressed the belief, that the agitation then existing would both continue and increase, and that future calms or storms would depend much on the course pursued by Mr. Howe, the leader of the Liberals. We were not mistaken in either conjecture. During the

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